Though science often involves observation of individual human health outcomes, scientists are limited in their ability to share the personal stories of these subjects in academic papers. The consequence of this limitation can be scientific results and conclusions that, though evidently important, seem somewhat distant to readers outside of the scientific community. The story of Eric Gladen, director of the new documentary Trace Amounts, helps contribute a more human perspective to scientific research, specifically as it pertains to the ongoing debate about vaccine safety.
Scientists like Mark and David Geier have long studied the risks certain vaccines can pose to recipients. Their research on Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative once found in an abundance of routine childhood vaccines (and still present in some influenza vaccines), brought to light the dangers of mercury exposure via vaccines. Their findings suggested a strong causal relationship between a high mercury body burden and adverse events like the acquisition of neurodevelopmental disorders. The Geiers extensively advocated for the findings of their research, and the CDC soon after removed Thimerosal from most vaccines. However, formal acknowledgement of the toxicity of Thimerosal was not forth-coming, and general attitudes about the need to more rigorously study the risks of vaccine ingredients have not changed.
The Geiers hope that their partnership with Eric Gladen will change that.
Eric Gladen is the survivor of a tetanus shot gone wrong. In 2004, Gladen received a standard tetanus shot containing significant amounts of Thimerosal. Shortly after his vaccine administration, Gladen became seriously ill and began demonstrating the typical signs of mercury poisoning. Gladen’s symptoms were life-altering, disrupting his career and plans for starting a family. After months of suffering, Gladen underwent treatment to completely extract all traces of mercury from the body and brain; shortly after, all of his symptoms disappeared.
The fact that this treatment was the solution to his symptoms left Gladen astonished, as it proved that Gladen was in fact the victim of mercury poisoning. If a single tetanus shot could contain enough mercury to cause such symptoms, why was Thimerosal an approved vaccine ingredient? Inspired to learn more about the risks of mercury and the efficacy of vaccines containing Thimerosal, Gladen reached out to the Geiers to acquire more scientific information. Over the course of ten years, his discussions with the Geiers, other scientists, and individuals from around the country ultimately led him to make a documentary about the dangers of mercury, with specific focus on its causal relationship with autism.
Trace Amounts thus presents a startlingly emotional and alarming portrait of the dangers of Thimerosal and its connection to autism. Since the documentary’s release, Gladden has toured the country to advocate for the complete removal of Thimerosal from all vaccines in the United States and around the world, and has been joined by the Geiers at media events. To rent or purchase Trace Amounts, please visit: http://traceamounts.com/.